Economics of Politics

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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It is always economics, stupid but in case of Pakistan unfortunately, it is always dirty politics which decides the fate of its people. Ongoing political stalemate has resultant the cancellation of Chinese President Visit to Pakistan which is indeed a great set-back to our strategic interests consisting of energy, military, infrastructure, telecommunication, and joint ventures. More than US$ 40 billion projects, investments and loans have been delayed which is indeed a great loss to our macro-economy.

Responses from PTI and PTA on this particular issue are disappointed and disgusting. Level of nationalism and service are missing from different political parties and factions on this particular issue. Real brinkmanship is totally diminished. Everyone is in search of safe haven in order to fulfill its own goals of socio-economic prosperity, power/authority, political mileage and larger than life role.

Even the scheduled visits of Sri Lankan and Maldives Presidents have been cancelled due to ongoing political chaos in the country. Foreign Secretaries meeting between Pakistan and India have also been postponed which is another setback to further strengthening of Pak-India bilateral relations. Hawks won and Doves lost faith in peace and harmony on different issues of national survival, productivity and prosperity in the country.

Ugly optics of politics in shape of sit-ins, processions and protests have wrecked the national economy. What is happening in Islamabad has a very ignominious precedent in 1977’s Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) agitation. Then too Pakistan was in transition as it is today. Due to prevailing paramount political uncertainty curial economic and fiscal reforms have been delayed. IMF has suspended the review of Pakistan’s economy because of the political uncertainty and this has stigmatised the country. Besides tarnishing Pakistan’s image internationally, the quixotic desire of opposing parties is making the willing foreign investors hesitant. That is why inflows of FDI & FPIs have been drastically decreased due to political uncertainty.

Political instability pushes GSP+ into doldrums and it has failed to reap the benefits of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus Status yet, whereas the prevailing political crisis may lead the country to get washed its hands of the advantages in case of any political setback, the European Union’s (EU) statement hinted.

The European Union (EU) has already shown a deep concern on current political situation of Pakistan in the context of GSP Pus Status. The statement can be attributed undoubtedly as an alarming message to the country, which is already passing through its worst-ever phase. If the political system of the Pakistan faces any unexpected outcome then it is obvious that the Pakistan will lose its one of the biggest achievement of the decade due to the non-seriousness of political parties. The GSP Plus status allows almost 20 percent of Pakistani exports to enter the EU market at zero tariff and 70 percent at preferential rates.

National economy has so far confronted loss of more than Rs900 billion because of the worst political instability Pakistan is currently facing for almost one month. Moreover, day-to-day economy of Lahore and Islamabad has badly suffered a lot. The cumulative economy of Lahore and Islamabad is the 10 percent of the whole economy that suffered mammoth loss of Rs1.5 trillion so far. The export and imports have also been affected by 10-15 percent. Government officials claim foreign currency reserves have fallen $800 million to $13.5 billion on lower than expected scheduled inflows because of the domestic political turmoil.

It is estimated that so far Pakistan suffered loss colossal of more than Rs450 billion in stock exchange business, Rs320 billion on account of appreciation of dollar against Pakistan currency by Rs5. The rupee devaluation against dollar has raised public debt by Rs350 billion.

Service sector of the country is at its lowest ebbs. Continued political tensions and a shaky economy will further pummel the local currency in the coming weeks. The hotel industry is sustaining huge loss per day particularly in the capital of Pakistan. Another easy prey of ongoing political volatility is the Large Scale Manufacturing sector (LSM) which witnessed a decline of 2.74 percent in June-July 2014 over the preceding month, reported Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The sector grew 3.95 percent for the July-June 2013-14 as compared to 4.28 percent recorded in the preceding fiscal year.

Political circuses strongly demanded withdraw of money from government banks. It was rejected by all the business bodies in the country. Even slogans of “civil disobedience” could not gather any momentum but it seriously damaged the economic prospects of the country. PTI suggestions to use Hawala or Hundi system for transfer of money to Pakistan was violation of national and international law and it could create a lot of troubles for overseas Pakistani. It fired back.

Vicious circles of Pakistan’s politics even tried to cosset the impartial image of Armed Forces of Pakistan which has already reiterated its full support for democracy. Rumors and conspiracies were widely spread to achieve desired targets. Thanks God, deity of democracy has not been stolen and the government and armed forces remained on same page. Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s emerged as a “Real Hero” and his image as a professional soldier has improved during recent weeks after he gave a cold shoulder to all those who have been asking him to step in and force the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to quit.

Allegations, counter-allegations, and tug-of-war were at the highest levels. Political orphans have been in search of shelter-home and could not succeed. Purified souls badly polluted the image of Pakistan and deliberately attacked on PTV and Parliament. Self-interests were worshiped and national interests were flashed-out. Undying rift reached to its point of no-return. Ironically, all main stakeholders did not step-back even an inch. National and Defence Days have been ignored.

Conclusion

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Politics of agitation achieves nothing but greater disappointment. Pursuits of power always backlash. Alleged rigging may be rectified through rigorous electoral reforms. Concepts of accountability, transparency and merit may be institutionalized through education, capacity building measures, rule of law and upholding of social justice. Self-centric policies and personal off-limits may sign-off PTIs & PAT justification for sit-ins. Ongoing dialogues should be meaningful and conflict oriented.

Politics is an art of impossibilities and it must not be equated with any playground. It guarantees nation’s sovereignty and functionality of the system and democracy stands for delivery not despotism. Even national economics must be above any dogma, religion, personal taboo and rituals. Only Economic independence is the way-out from the miseries of poverty, gender discrimination, feudality and status-quo. Pakistan does not confine to Bani Gala and Minhaj Ul Quran. It also consists of so many mud houses which are already broken due to ruinous floods. Sir, think for the sake of country and its people, please.

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